Rebuilding Business and Finance for the Common Good

1198416businessRecent events have taught us that we are not as clever, as rational or as trustworthy as we had hoped. 'Shareholder value' has been exposed as a flawed concept, and we've realised that the market won't save us. The lessons we've learned have rocked the foundational economic and philosophical assumptions on which Western capitalism has operated for the past 25 years.

However, even as we wrestle with the challenges posed by these seismic shifts, we find ourselves in a season of unprecedented opportunity. We now have the chance of achieving nothing less than the re-laying of the foundations of global finance and business.

It may well prove that more shrewdness in regulation is required; but increased regulation will not solve the problem. Instead, what is needed is a robust examination of the human factor, and of the values that drive our businesses. We must look closely at the personal shortcomings and structural dysfunctions that locked us into a system that did not deliver. We can no longer allow the system to drive our values. Our values must now drive the system. For confidence in our business and financial institutions to be restored, we must rediscover our confidence that ideas matter, and that good values are a good idea.

Over the long-term, the economy of a country or business whose behaviour is based on sound values will be significantly healthier than that of a country or business whose behaviour lacks a strong, values-based approach. It is on the foundation of positive values that wealth creation, fairness, sustainability and communal well-being flourish.

The UK remains one of the richest, best educated, and most creative nations in the world. But if we are to continue flourishing, then we must address the question of how best to deliver business for the common good; business that prospers through focussing on service rather than self, based on mutuality not individualism, and on creativity not speculation.

We have no divine right to a comfortable future. Indeed, what is the point of Christ's parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) if not that true disciples are faithful risk-takers for the sake of the kingdom and its values? Christians seeking to be salt and light in the arena of business and finance have a biblical mandate for endeavour and entrepreneurship. The challenge that faces them is vast, but building on the foundation of values that underpin business for the common good, we can have a hope that is so much more than misplaced optimism.
Author: James Featherby


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